“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” – Luke 6:38
This year “Eat Bajan Day” will be celebrated on Friday, October 10 to sensitise us about the importance of local agriculture and fisheries to our health and wealth and to the planet’s future. It is an initiative of the Graham Gooding Trust.
The Trustees of the Trust commemorate the late E.G.B. Gooding (1915-1987), who was born in Britain of Barbadian parents and was educated at Harrison College and Cambridge University. He was a botanist, agriculturalist, food technologist and environmentalist and I was fortunate to have interacted with him on many occasions on my return to Barbados in 1974. He researched and published extensively on the ecology and flora of Barbados.
We are encouraging you to try to use only local foods and drinks for your meals on “Eat Bajan Day”.
Over the past 200 years, the world has rapidly evolved through an agricultural revolution, an industrial revolution, a knowledge revolution and currently an entrepreneurial revolution, all contributing in a timely manner to enhance the chances of our survival and growth. What is the next most promising opportunity for growth? Is it the food revolution? Certainly food is the one thing that is needed by everyone in the world, albeit in some cases to alleviate starvation and for others to enjoy the ultimate in global food experiences. It is in this latter category that we shall focus our attention.
First of all, we need every child to understand where food comes from, how to cook it, and how it affects their body. This is about setting kids up with the knowledge they need to make better food choices for life and to crave for a diversity in food experiences.
Our vision is to respond not only to the needs of global food entrepreneurs who are seeking a favourable entrepreneurial development climate, but also to inculcate in the minds of the youngest residents the potential for food entrepreneurial pursuits as an alternative to the traditional avenues of economic activity.
Very often we hear complaints that small island developing states and rural communities have limited resources and this puts them at a disadvantage when compared with mineral resource rich countries. The fact is that all countries are blessed with two primary resources – people and land. If we were to develop our people to the fullest and exploit the land to its greatest potential then the resource potential picture would change.
As we focus on Eat Bajan Day this week and World Food Day next week we should remember how our colonial masters spotted the opportunity to exploit the lands of the Caribbean to the extent that they built an empire from the sugarcane and cotton fields, albeit using slave labour.
Several centuries have elapsed since that exploitation began and we are now technologically advanced to present the agricultural industry as a very attractive industry to launch us into the future. We have made strides with tourism and the financial services sectors which have contributed to foreign exchange earnings. Now it’s time for us to refocus on agriculture, but in a big way!
Every year we talk about eating local and reducing the food import bill, and supplying cruise ships with food and increasing exports significantly. The Caribbean experience has been one of pockets of success but not for a sustained period.
How do we approach the food revolution?
In many places in the world people carry a bushel basket to market. Vendors fill it to overflowing with greens and other produce. Both givers and receivers experience a joyous sharing of prosperity and gratitude through this transaction. This is the traditional agricultural trading experience with some forays into agri-processing and exports.
What innovations can we make to the agricultural-based products and services to enhance the overall food experience?
We need to open up our eyes and realise that there is a seven billion-plus world population to be fed and that the once fertile and productive lands can be brought back to production driven by forces in the global market. Only relatively small land sizes in the Caribbean have been put to practical use since the sugar and banana industries have been in their sunset phase.
Yes, there has been talk but little action.
Recently I have been engaged with a group that is all fired up for action. It consists of four individuals from the food design, open innovation, communications and shepherding disciplines.
Food Design involves different disciplines such as biology, genetics, anthropology, psychoanalysis, sociology, nutrition, research on sociability and social mediation and the history of culinary systems and forms of conviviality.
The central idea behind open innovation is that, in a world of widely distributed knowledge, companies cannot afford to rely entirely on their own research, but should instead buy or license innovations from other companies.
The aim of communications or public relations is to persuade the public, prospective customers, investors, partners, employees, and other stakeholders to maintain a certain point of view about a given innovation, its leadership and products.
Shepherding mitigates the risk of business failure and secures the capital investment as we experience the exponential transition from traditional trade to that driven by global market demand.
Look out for a new Caribbean food project as we promote and sell Caribbean food and beverage products and experiences within the global marketplace.
The agricultural sector has lost one of its vocal stalwarts of change. Former Senator Keith Laurie passed away this week after a short illness. I was privileged to work closely with him for more than four decades. His enthusiasm for change in the agriculture sector will be sorely missed. May he rest in peace!
(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET – His columns may be found at www.cbetmodel.org and www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com)